Sell by Dates by Karen King

          I don't know about you but I strictly adhere to 'sell by dates' on food - or anything else for that matter. If the label tells me that the bag of potatoes has to be used by 20 April then in the bin they go on the 21 April.  My partner keeps telling me that 'sell by dates' are only a guide and I should use my common sense. If the food looks and smells okay then I can still eat it but I don't like to take the risk so throw it out.
          I think publishing can be a bit like this. Someone decides that a book is old-fashioned, out-dated and that people won't be interested in reading it anymore. It's too 'gentle', set too long ago, isn't pacey enough. So the book gets remaindered. Or no more are printed once stocks run out. It doesn't matter that the book is very popular, that people still ask for it. It's past its 'sell by date' so in the bin it goes - metaphorically speaking. No matter how much we ask for a favourite book we can't buy it, unless we are lucky enough to track down a second hand copy on the internet.

          To me, the big plus side of e-publishing is that all those wonderful stories that we still want to read but publishers have decided aren't commercial or modern enough are available to us once again. With ebooks there is no 'sell by date'. As long as a reader wants to read them they're available. And as authors, it means that our 'binned' books can be given a new lease of life. Which makes it a winner all around.

           My children's novel Firstborn and romance novel Never Say Forever are available on Amazon now.


Never Say Forever

          See my website at for details of all my published books.


Jan Needle said…
if you buy a bottle of water in buxton, it has a long dreamy blurb about how the water fell as rain on the moors five thousands years ago, filtered down, bubbled and squeaked, picked up all the life giving chemicals, etc, etc. and on the bottom of the label - well of course. a best before date...

yes, don't let old books die. we still read the bible, don't we?
I couldn't agree more. Though I do tend to ignore sell-by dates as well. I take note of use-by dates for meat and fish. But I always ignore everything for cheese which is a big lump of mould anyway :-) But you're so right about books - there are such fashions in publishing - thank goodness for eBooks!
Oooh, excellent question. Good books don't have a sell-by date. Books written to meet a shallow marketing brief do. But books that charm the reader with timeless human questions and darn good writing?
Batman said…
It would seem that you're the inspiration for that commercial where the woman throws out half her meat as soon as she buys it....

A suggestion would be to look at the 'use by' date as a guide before you buy something.

As for books, I don't truly believe any have what you refer to as a sell by date.
madwippitt said…
Absolutely! Although of course, if you wait long enough, they become highly valuable antique acquisitions, full of quaint phrases, spelling and strange beliefs ... but most of us can't wait that long, so hurrah for the rise and rise of the e-book. (Although I shall still go on book-buying benders at second hand bookshops ,,,)
Ann Evans said…
Good points Karen, and I totally agree. Hurrah for ebooks. And of course as you're re-working your story for the ebook market you get the chance to make any little tweaks and changes, or to bring the story bang up to date.
Debbie Bennett said…
I'm with Catherine. Ignore sell-by dates, but don't mess with use-by! And some of my favourite books are really old ones I discovered as a child that are held together by sellotape and that musty smell old books get.
Karen said…
Thanks for your comments, everyone. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to ignore 'sell by dates' on food but I don't think there should ever be 'sell by dates' on books. I love old books!

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